Leading agricultural service provider NWK has migrated its entire z/VSE mainframe workload to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z and is using one IFL on its new IBM zEnterprise 114 server. Processing speeds have improved by more than 70% when compared with the original platform.
NWK confirms it has gained a stable, reliable platform for running its most important financial applications and business systems. It has operated in the North West province of South Africa for more than a century, providing independent farmers and large scale producers with a range of products and services including expert advice and financing.
NWK employs more than 2 000 people and reported revenue of more than R1-billion in 2012.

Tight control over business systems and financial processes is required to ensure continued growth and profitability of NWK’s operational segments and the company has custom developed a broad suite of financial applications to control processes ranging from credit to general ledger.

“Linux quickly emerged as the front-runner in NWK’s search for a new operating system,” says Matthew Lee, SUSE regional manager Africa.
“It has given the company considerable scope for embracing a more open infrastructure model. Once the different distributions of Linux available on the mainframe were evaluated, NWK chose to deploy SUZE Linux Enterprise Server for IBM System z, a decision guided by the platform’s inherent reliability and the close collaboration between SUZE and IBM.”

Eddie Leighton, technology manager at NWK, says the organisation was encouraged by the amount of research and development ploughed into optimising SUSE Linux enterprise Server on IBM System z over the past 13 years.
“Running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z gave us the best of both worlds – the openness of Linux combined with the support and expertise of SUSE and IBM.”

Leighton adds that NWK had been running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on the z114 for three months and all elements has operated very smoothly. About 450 users are supported on one IFL with an average CPU usage of 60% to 70%. Performance had been excellent, even when running at 100% utilisation.
The z114 running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z offers 600 MIPS compared to the 172 MIPS of NWK’s previous mainframe, confirming significantly faster processing for key tasks.
Response times have also come down significantly. Leighton says previously back up of the main production database took two and a half hours alone. Now the total back up window for all nine databases, including the data warehouse, has reduced to two hours. NWK has been able to establish a more flexible computing infrastructure with performance and stability.